Wednesday 20 May 2020

Bright Bursts of Colour - poems by Matt Goodfellow (illus Aleksei Bitskoff), reviewed by Dawn Finch

First the blurb...
What if cats had flavoured fur or if you swallowed the sun? What if you were a special kind of badger or if you found a map to the stars? And what if your home was split during the week: one half at Mum's, the other half at Dad's?

Packed with brilliant poems that explore a whole range of themes from the downright silly to the sensitive, this collection will delight, enthuse and resonate with children and adults alike!

You might not be familiar with Matt Goodfellow yet, but I'd make a very careful note of that name because I feel that he is definitely a poet to remember. Matt is a relatively new voice on the poetry scene but his work is so deliciously accomplished that it feels like he's already solidly established. This poetry collection is absolutely superb and so well observed. I feel that this must be due in no small part to his time as a primary school teacher. This is a poet who really knows and understands children.

This slim collection of poems for children feels like it also speaks to us as adults. There are poems here that made me laugh ("Dogs With Human Names" and "I Fell in Love with a Crumpet" stand out) but there is work here that is achingly beautiful, and sad. Goodfellow pulls no punches and at no time do you feel that anything here has been dashed off to fill pages. 

Aleksei Bitskoff's brilliantly jolly illustrations place this book firmly in the hands of children, and that is a very good thing as there is a lot for them to love here, but poems like "Empty" (which opens with "we took her clothes to the charity shop") just broke my heart and I think adult readers will get a great deal out of this book too.

I loved this book for children, but I must confess that I am very much looking forward to Goodfellow's poetry for adults because this is a poet with an artist's deft hand. The imagery in the poems is glittering like the sharpest blade, and many cut deep. Poems like "Mist" and "The Sometimes Song" will live with me for a very long time. The kind of poems that make you need a moment to gather yourself after reading. The kind of poems that make that melancholy ache in your heart. The kind of poems that make you say, "Oh.." out loud. Wonderful work.

Thanks, Matt, if we ever meet I can't promise not to hug you.

Bright Bursts of Colour - Poems by Matt Goodfellow (illustrated by Aleksei Bitskoff) is published in the UK by Bloomsbury Education.

Dawn Finch is an author and librarian. She is the current chair of the Society of Authors' Children's Writers and Illustrators Group (CWIG) and a trustee of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP)



Penny Dolan said...

A good new poetry book from a brilliant "new" poet is always welcome her on Awfully Big Reviews.

I know lots of children, sometimes with a little encouragement, get a lot out of poetry, especially when a book offers the range of emotion and reading experiences you describe. Thanks, Dawn.

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